Paediatric: Hearing Loss

What is Hearing Loss in Children?

Normal hearing is crucial for children’s speech and language development. Early assessment and intervention are essential if there is any suspicion of hearing loss or signs of speech and language delay in children.

In children, hearing loss can arise from issues within the ear’s outer, middle, or inner structures. The causes are typically categorized as conductive or sensorineural. (Figure 1).

Types of Hearing Loss in Children

In children, hearing loss can stem from issues within the ear’s outer, middle, or inner structures. The causes are generally categorized as conductive or sensorineural.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot efficiently reach the inner ear. Fortunately, this type of hearing loss is often treatable. Common causes include:

  1. Buildup of ear wax
  2. Ear infections
  3. Fluid accumulation in the middle ear (Figure 2)
  4. Foreign objects lodged in the ear canal
  5. Stiffening of the hearing bones

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear structures like the cochlea or hearing nerve. This type of hearing loss is typically permanent. Causes may include:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  3. Viral infections affecting the inner ear
  4. Certain medications
  5. Trauma

Mild Hearing Loss in Children: Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms of Mild Hearing Loss in Children

  • Inconsistent responses to auditory stimuli
  • Difficulty hearing soft sounds or distant speech
  • Trouble following conversations, especially in noisy settings
  • Speaking louder than necessary

Treatment for Mild Hearing Loss in Children

Treatment options for hearing loss in children vary based on the type and severity of the condition. They may include:

  • Removal of ear wax or foreign bodies
  • Medication or surgery to treat ear infections or fluid in the middle ear
  • Hearing aids for those with sensorineural hearing loss
  • Speech therapy to support language development

Treatment options depend on the underlying cause and severity of the child’s hearing loss, ranging from removing ear wax to using hearing aids or undergoing speech therapy.

Assessment and Management

Diagnosing hearing loss in children involves a comprehensive clinical history, physical examination, and hearing test (audiometry) performed by an ENT specialist. Effective management strategies are tailored based on the specific type and cause of hearing loss in children.

When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

  • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
  • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

Dr Gan provides a comprehensive management in a broad array of Ear, Nose and Throat as well as Head & Neck conditions. He has a special interest in treating various nose and sinus conditions including snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

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